The morning after my cataract surgery, I saw the surgeon.
It's not that before the surgery I was blind. In fact my Optometrist said, “We don’t use the ’ B word ‘ around here.”
Even so, years of increasingly blurry vision and last year's postponement of surgery due to the COVID pandemic had left me unable to drive, read magazines or enjoy television. Having to be driven to appointments and grocery stores was giving me an Old Lady Complex.
The morning after the surgery I thanked the surgeon for the miracle her skill had provided. She seemed somewhat taken aback by my enthusiasm. "I can see the bark on trees!" I told her. "Even the individual leaves on trees! I can read the book titles on the spines from across the room! I've never in my life seen at distance like this! I can read street signs! It's a miracle!"
Once I calmed down, the surgeon seemed happy that restored sight meant so much to me. I think I will begin contributing to charities that provide this treatment for the poor. (More about that later.)
Results of Surgery
Truthfully, I haven't seen so well since Seventh Grade when I got my first pair of glasses. Even then my right eye required a thick heavy lens, but I was just happy to see from that eye. Now that same eye is my far distance eye! My left eye is my middle distance eye for working on the computer.
The downside is that I literally cannot see up close at all, and instead of holding my cell phone up to my nose, now my arm has to stretch out to the max. I know, I know, you can expand the text on a cell phone, but you cannot magically expand magazines, books or embroidery hoops. Since the cataract surgery I've been wearing drugstore "readers," those flimsy half-moon glasses, to work my crossword puzzles. Abi thinks this granny-look will be a perfect for my new blog, Grandma Explains.
I wanted one eye to have a distance focus, the other eye up close, but the doctor thought the gap might make me uncomfortable, even a fall risk. Since I am increasing my writing on the computer, having a middle-distance eye makes sense.
Yesterday Abi went with me to pick out a new pair of frames for the new prescription. These will be progressive trifocals; hence, the lenses need to be a good size. As Abi is an artist and designer, I wanted her take on the look for this next chapter of my life.
The optician invited us to rummage around. “Just leave the ones you try on out on the counter so I can sterilize them,” she said. “COVID, you know.”
So we rummaged. In a locked cabinet we found shiny black frames with a touch of bling. I'll post a photo when I get them--it will be three weeks, so a new look for Christmas!
Who Is Helping Those Who Can't See?
But getting back to those who cannot see. I’ve been investigating who else cares about eye care for the poor. Unfortunately, blindness is on the increase world-wide, especially in the developing world.
One group I’ve known about is the Lions Club International, which collects used eyeglasses to distribute overseas through missions groups. I have a half-dozen pairs from Jesse, my late husband . I know he would want me to donate them. The Lions have collection boxes at many health facilities, eyeglass shops and churches, over 100 spots in Denver area alone. The Denver Lions organization has a list of specific drop sites, Lions Recycle for Sight. They partner with Walmart and Sam’s Club Vision Centers in collecting used glasses, along with many private providers.
The UC Health Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Care Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus conducts clinical research and training of doctors and ophthalmology team members. They specialize in eye surgery.
OneSight is an independent nonprofit that has helped more than nine million people in 46 countries. They set up permanent vision centers and charitable clinics around the world. While they only give away new glasses themselves, they pass on used ones to the Lions.
New Eyes is a United Way agency that buys new glasses for people in need in the US. It also accepts, processes and distributes gently used eyeglasses to people overseas. They accept used prescription glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, safety glasses and children’s glasses in good to excellent condition.
Medicare and Medicaid provide insurance to Americans that can cover all or part of a new pair of glasses, or the new pair of eyes you get with cataract surgery. Helpline is one place to compare health plans for dental, vision, hearing and more.
Doctors Without Borders and church-sponsored missions like UMCOR send medical teams to provide surgery for the poor in other countries. Generally, surgeons and other medical personnel volunteer their time and pay their own travel expenses, while the sponsoring organizations pay for medicine, materials and eyeglasses.
These are a few private, religious and governmental groups that respond to the needs of those with vision issues, and in many cases, hearing issues. I think That Guy Jesus would be interested in this work, and He would appreciate everyone who is helping out, religious or not.